November 22, 2019 / Editor-in-chief's Corner / Fall 2019

Make yearbook experience shine on college applications

Written by Winona Nasser

If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a go-getter, an ambitious busy bee and a passionate leader. Your yearbook experience is what makes you a prized catch in the sea of college applicants. Some believe yearbookers are future scrapbook moms, but your job as a college prospect is to stand out. You know that the hours you spent measuring the picas between spread elements translated into real-life work experience, and with the end of your legacy nearing, you should reflect on what you’ve done with the opportunities yearbook has given you. Here’s how to compile your accomplishments into a neat little package to send off to college admissions officers.

Define It

Most are unaware of how involved yearbook can be. Under every extracurricular activity you list, the Coalition or Common App program will prompt you to describe your experience. Go into detail while still being as concise as possible. As the top dog of your publication, your sole responsibility wasn’t just to “make a yearbook.”

Take this description for example: Lead production of 350-page publication with a staff of 20 students. Managed biweekly deadlines, assigned and edited pages, designed graphic elements, reported on and photographed events, produced promotional material and met sales goals.

As editor-in-chief, you ran an entire business and delved into a multi-disciplinary industry of not only journalism, but also graphic design, photography and marketing. Make sure your description does your job justice.

Show, Don’t Tell

As a student journalist, yearbook not only allowed you to learn about your fellow students, it also gave you opportunities to learn about yourself as well. Provide examples of your strong suits in your college essay and tell stories from the times where those strong suits developed, rather than merely describing why being in yearbook led you to choose a major in journalism. For example, show off your willingness to learn by mentioning how you taught yourself the basics of color gel photography through YouTube. Show off your dedication by discussing hurdles you overcame and how you overcame them. Draw from your experiences at national conferences, after-school work days or late nights before deadlines. The key is to demonstrate how producing a yearbook from start to finish taught you lessons that make you a valuable prospect.

Get Creative

You’ve been telling other people’s stories for years – don’t be afraid to break the mold when telling your own. Years of yearbook experience likely means that you’ve developed phenomenal writing and design skills. If you’re a strong writer, choose an unconventional approach to your college essay. Most application programs allow you to upload a resume, so if design is what you’re best at, ditch the Word templates and create an aesthetically pleasing graphic resume that clearly shows off what you’ve learned from designing pages. Note specific details such as what skills you gained and awards that your publication won. Make yourself stand out!

Not all high schoolers can say that they were in charge of a business that made thousands of dollars each year. Your experience on the yearbook staff vouches for the fact that you know how to be an effective leader, so flaunt it when college application season rolls around!

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Winona Nasser

Winona Nasser is a student at the University of Florida, majoring in advertising and video production. She was on yearbook staff at Braden River High School in Bradenton, Florida, for four years, including two years as Editor-in-chief.